Monday, August 27, 2007

Made it Myself: 2 of 2

In researching this new culture (heh) of homemade yogurt, I decided to check a blog that is new to me but has quickly found a place in my heart. In Figs Olives Wine, New York chef and food writer Amanda writes with a Mediterranean perspective on eating: simple preparations focusing on the best local seasonal ingredients. Needless to say, I love it -- I'm Mediterranean-obsessed, after all, and the stories that accompany her recipes are charming and fascinating.

No word on home yogurt making, but I did find a recipe that for something to have with my yogurt: cherry spoon sweet. Good lord, what a treat. Less mushy and homogenous than preserves, the cherries stay plump and whole here. It was a perfect way to use up some cherries that were beginning to shrivel in the fridge. After the slow, conteplative, Zen-ish task of pitting cherries, it comes together quite quickly and leaves your kitchen smelling like some sort of exotic candy shop.

I skipped the sterilizing step, since it was going to sit in my refrigerator, and such a small batch as I was making would get eaten fast. I also omitted the blanched almonds for simplicity, lowered the sugar, since I wasn't using sour cherries, and replaced her cinnamon and star anise (sounds delish, but I'll save those for colder days) with lemon zest and vanilla bean. Except not vanilla bean -- instead vanilla extract. I mean, I contemplated stopping at Trader Joe's really a lot, but like, it's Friday night and I've got a full-time high-profile (ha) job for god's sake, and I can't be a slow foodist and a career woman at the same time, not that I ever wanted to be a career woman, and I have to get to Atwater Village later tonight to hang out with strangers and check out some new bar that's not that new anymore because I'm just not as on-the-ball with this city as i think i am but still it's east -- way east -- and that counts, right? Right?

Anyway, I had it for breakfast on Saturday.

Cherry Vanilla Spoon Sweet

Gorgeous colors abound in making this recipe -- winedark juices as you pit the cherries, and a pink at once both deep and bright as the juices cook. Just take care not to get them all over yourself -- pit the cherries with your hands inside a deep bowl.

about 40 bing cherries, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp red wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 long thick pieces of lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or about 1 inch of a vanilla bean, sliced open and seeds scraped into the cherry mixture)

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring gently but continuously. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for about 8 minutes, or until the cherries are slightly wilted.

With a slotted spoon, remove the cherries to a sieve over a bowl (you can do this in one step with a spider strainer, what's quickly becoming my favorite kitchen gadget), but leave behind the lemon zest. Raise the heat to medium and reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes, until well-thickened.

Remove spoon sweet from the heat and allow to cool. Spoon mixutre into jar.


  1. Mmmm...this sounds heavenly. Not that I would ever consider any recipe that requires pitting cherries. But you're welcome to make me some anytime. That is, if you're not busy cultivating your bacteria.

  2. pitting the cherries is the perfect activity to do while watching entourage, top chef, or before sunset for the fourth time -- quite enjoyable actually, and oddly relaxing. it's not unlike shelling fava beans or taking the pits out of limoo omani.

    having said that, i'd be glad to make you some. it's super easy and really satisfying. do you have any requests on flavor? vanilla/lemon? cinnamon/star anise ilke the original? something funky like black pepper and sage?

  3. Exotic candy shop is so right! What a heavenly smell and I like your variation with sweet cherries, vanilla, and lemon.

  4. how do you feel about the yogurt thing that Ronald's Kitchen makes?

  5. figs, thanks for the inspiration!

    andy, you know, i've tried ronald's rendition, and it's actually not that bad. probably made in a lab though -- i'll stick with my own for now, thanks.